James Donio, President Of The Music Business Association Looks Back On 2014
James Donio, President of the Music Business Association (Music Biz) is up next on our Virtual Panel. On the subject of streaming, Donio says, "While we refrain from editorializing on any Music Biz member company’s role in the marketplace, it is abundantly clear that streaming will continue to gain traction next year as it tallies more and more users around the world. In fact, Billboard and Nielsen’s decision to include streaming numbers and digital downloads in their calculations for the Billboard 200 chart underscores this point."
1) Do you see the current debate questioning the effect of ubiquitous free music online leading to real change? Or is the Taylor Swift debate just a short term distraction?
That’s not really for me to say. As a membership organization, our position is that every label and artist is entitled to explore and make their own creative and business decisions about how they will bring their music to the world. That said, we’re extremely happy to see Taylor achieving the unbelievable success she’s had so far with 1989. I still remember when she made her industry debut at our 2007 convention, returning only three years later to accept our Artist of the Year Award.
2) How important are the entry of YouTube Music Key and the expansion of Beats Music within the Apple eco-system? And will they lead to a much larger streaming music audience by the end of 2015; or just fragment a steadily expanding user base?
While we refrain from editorializing on any Music Biz member company’s role in the marketplace, it is abundantly clear that streaming will continue to gain traction next year as it tallies more and more users around the world. In fact, Billboard and Nielsen’s decision to include streaming numbers and digital downloads in their calculations for the Billboard 200 chart underscores this point. In the first chart issued under the new methodology, Ariana Grande jumped 32 spots into the Top 10, providing a more accurate gauge of her popularity and how her music is really being enjoyed by her fans. Now that our measurement tools are getting more in line with the current business models, we should begin to see a much clearer picture of every artist’s popularity. We still have more work to do, but this is definitely progress.
3) What was the big shift or story of 2014 that will have a major effect on your business/sector in 2015?
There is no doubt that the heightened transition from a unit-based to an access-based marketplace will be one of the most significant outcomes of 2014. Of course, the trends around streaming models and consumer behavior will continue to have major impact in 2015 and beyond on the overall industry. As I mentioned before, Billboard’s new Top 200 chart, which includes streaming and digital track downloads, now provides a full picture of the industry’s health. This could lead to any number of changes as the industry adjusts to reflect the new reality presented by these numbers. For example, many artists who don’t sell well traditionally but are popular on streaming services could now command more attention from their labels, publishers, and other potential business partners, shifting the industry’s power balance. Naturally, these changes will affect the profile of the community that we bring within Music Biz.
What Are Others Saying?
- Cortney Harding of Muzooka
- Kyle Bylin of Soundhound
- Simon Cole of 7digital
- Dmitri Vietze of Rock Paper Scissors
- Dave Cool of Bandzoogle
- Jack Conte of Pomplamoose and Patreon
- Dave Kusek of the New Artist Model